RELEASED: May 1, 2018
PUBLISHER: Vintage Publishing
GOODREADS RATING: 4.02
TRIGGERS: Abuse, fat-shaming, racism, eating disorders, depression
Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With full-throttle honesty, Sidibe paints her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway. Sidibe tells the engrossing, inspiring story of her first job as a phone sex “talker.” And she shares her unconventional (of course!) rise to fame as a movie star, alongside “a superstar cast of rich people who lived in mansions and had their own private islands and amazing careers while I lived in my mom’s apartment.”
The first thing popping to mind when I saw this book on NetGalley, was “I know this woman!” but I couldn’t remember where I’d seen her. It didn’t took me long to realize she played Precious in the movie Precious. As if I wasn’t convinced to read this one yet, that definitely did it. I was totally ready to find out how Gabourey Sidibe became an actress, how her life was before and after.
Since this is a non-fiction novel, I don’t feel like I can divide this up in “good vs. bad” as I usually do. This is someone’s life we’re talking about. I’m not going to be the judge of that. We all make good decisions, bad ones and… sometimes we even run away from taking them in the first place. How can I possibly go “Oh, I didn’t like THAT” when it’s one of Gabourey’s own decisions? I can’t. So this is going to be me rambling on and on – enjoy!
First off – if you hadn’t noticed yet – this is the story of a black, plus-sized woman who fought to get where she is now.
In her own sassy and sarcastic way she shares everything she’s been through, how she got where she is now and – most importantly – that it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She shows how her life isn’t all that perfect, but she’s still happy with the way it is and the decisions she’s made. Sharing all those little and big events is admirable because there are definitely some hard topics mentioned.
Wouldn’t it be nice if money bought love? But it doesn’t. It buys resentment.
In TIJMF, there is one specific subject touched upon that hit me hard. Stomach surgery. I’ve talked about it before, but for those of you who don’t know: I’ve had stomach surgery two years ago, which is why I’m going to go into that one a bit more.
Up until today strangers still have the guts to tell me I “took the easy way out” but it wasn’t easy at all. It takes time to get at that point where you see the surgery as your last resort and Gabourey shared that in her book. I cried because it was all so familiar. The way she talked about the surgery hit home. Hard. And just so you know, it’s NOT easy having your life changed entirely in barely twelve hours’ time and not being able to go back. It’s NOT.
I could elaborate on this more, but the only thing I want to share on this specific subject is this: People who chose this surgery didn’t do it because they want to be skinny. They did it because they want to feel comfortable in their own skin, because they want to feel healthy and cannot get there through regular diets. Hell, if I would be skinny, I’d get an identity crisis. As Gabourey I’m happy with simply being chubby. That’s me. I simply don’t even want to be skinny. I’m not kidding about that identity crisis, okay?
Okay, let’s end this review and conclude that this book is proof we all choose our own paths. We all have our pasts, make our own decisions and we decide where we go, where we end up. We decide what and who we want to be – no one else. Gabourey shared her journey so far; I’m taking it with me to remind me I am the one deciding where my life is headed.
I genuinely hope you’ll pick this one up as well. Let me know what stuck with you most – I’d love to talk about it.